YSU panel OKs 3.5% tuition increase

By Denise Dick



With a projected reduction of an additional $1.1 million in state funding next year, Youngstown State University undergraduate students likely will pay $130 more per semester in tuition this fall.

YSU trustees’ finance and facilities committee Tuesday approved the 3.5 percent increase, bumping undergraduate tuition from $3,726 to $3,856 per semester. The full trustee board is expected to vote on the increase next week.

For graduate students, the cost will rise from $4,955 to $5,128 per semester.

Trustee Harry Meshel cast the only dissenting vote.

Neal McNally, interim associate vice president for budget planing and analysis/treasurer, said the increase will generate about $3.3 million for YSU.

Fees for four of the six colleges also will increase.

A $100 transportation fee that had been discussed previously for implementation in the fall was deferred. That fee, which was to be levied on all students, was to fund transportation services, and a percentage would go to replace the Lincoln Avenue parking deck.

Instead, the $100-per-semester parking fee, paid by students to use on-campus parking facilities, will increase to $120 per semester.

“We did not prepare the student population for a transportation fee,” President Cynthia Anderson said.

Students who attended an April question-and-answer session with Anderson voiced concern and opposition to the proposed transportation fee, she said.

The committee also approved a $179 million operating budget for fiscal year 2013, which begins July 1, a 1.3 percent decrease from the FY 2012 spending plan.

The $1.1 million loss in state funding in FY 2013 comes on the heels of a $7 million loss of state funding last year.

Ten years ago, state funding comprised about 50 percent of YSU’s general-fund budget. That’s been reduced to about 25 percent.

Gene Grilli, vice president for finance and administration, said the general fund is $2.4 million lower than last year.

The budget is based on the assumption that enrollment remains flat this fall, but some committee members urged the finance department to prepare for contingencies in case enrollment decreases again this year.

The university saw a 4 percent dip in fall 2011 enrollment, compared to fall 2010.

Grilli said the university is working to cut expenses across all areas. He listed implementation of a 2.75 percent convenience fee for credit-card transactions as an example.

That’s expected to save YSU about $250,000 annually.

In other business, committee members voted to raze the historic Peck House on Wick Avenue.

The university announced plans in 2010 to demolish the building but put those plans on hold to determine if there was another use for it.

The Peck House is a 7,660-square-foot, single-family home in the Wick Avenue Historic District and was built in 1887 for Dr. George and Emeline Peck. It’s one of six mansions remaining on Wick.

Recently, YSU considered the house as a location for the English Language Institute, but the space wasn’t right for them, said John Hyden, executive director of facilities.

A veterans group considered the building for a veterans center on campus, but to make the necessary improvements and bring the building up to code would cost between $750,000 and $1 million, he said.

Meshel said the veterans group is interested in raising the money to build a new center on the site. That would allow YSU to draw veterans to campus, he added.

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